Laminate flooring is a floating floor system, which means you don’t nail it to the subflooring. To install laminate flooring, you connect its tongue-and-groove locking system and the weight of the wood holds the flooring in place. To transition from the room where you install laminate flooring, you also need to install threshold plates. These transition pieces are available in a variety of forms to allow you to transition to a variety of different floor coverings.
Clean the subfloor with a shop vacuum. Examine the subflooring for any nails or screws that may be protruding. If you find nails or screws above the surface, countersink them either with a nail set and hammer or with a screwdriver.
Unroll the underlayment recommended by the manufacturer of the laminate flooring you are about to install. Overlap the pieces slightly. Seal seams with masking tape. The underlayment provides a quieter floor and helps even out minor imperfections in the sub-floor.
Measure the width of the room. Measure the width of one laminate plank, minus its tongue. Divide the width of the room by the width of the plank. If you have an uneven number, that number is the amount you need to cut off both the starting and ending row of planks.
Cut the planks for the first row. Even if you don’t need to cut any amount from the plank itself, remove the tongue portion of the plank. Saw from the top of the plank with a handsaw. Cut from the reverse side of the plank if you use a circular saw or a handheld cutting tool with a carbide wheel.
Set spacers around the perimeter of the room to allow the planks to expand and contract with seasonal humidity changes.
Place the first row of planks along the wall. Lock the tongues and grooves together on the ends of each plank. Start the second row by staggering joints. Cut planks, as necessary, to allow the staggered joints. Some manufacturers provide planks of different lengths so you can skip this step.
Continue fastening the planks together until you reach the opposite wall. Place the last row in place, cutting off the groove portion of the pieces as necessary to get them to fit.
Make a paper template of any odd shapes you may need to cut from the planks. Trace the pattern onto the plank and cut out the shape with a jigsaw or a handheld multipurpose tool fitted with a cutting accessory.
Place two spacers along the edge of the laminate flooring in the doorway. Slide the threshold plate against the spacers. Hold the threshold plate firmly against the spacers as you screw in the screws that came with the threshold plate through the predrilled holes in the threshold plate and into the subfloor. Do not place the screws into the laminate. Remove the spacers.
Set the baseboard molding in place around the perimeter of the room. Use finishing nails to hold it to the wall, not the floor.
Tips & Warnings
- Laminate flooring needs to acclimate in the room at least 48 hours prior to installation.
- Work from four or five open boxes of laminate flooring to get an even mix of color variations.
- Unlike solid wood, laminate cannot be sanded. If a piece is damaged during installation, it might be ruined.
Things You'll Need:
- Shop vacuum
- Nail set
- Masking tape
- Tape measure
- Circular saw or handheld cutting tool with carbide wheel
- Jigsaw or handheld multipurpose tool with cutting accessory
- Finishing nails
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